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Medical Malpractice

Doctor for Late Soundgarden Singer Chris Cornell Moves to Dismiss Negligence Lawsuit

— March 5, 2019

While Cornell’s widow and children blame the singer’s death on a bad prescription, Dr. Robert Koblin claims he ordered Ativan without any ambiguity.

The physician of Chris Cornell claims his Ativan prescription did nothing to contribute to the Soundgarden singer and songwriter’s untimely death.

Cornell, reports the New York Daily News, died of suicide in May 2017.

Now, the singer’s surviving relatives are trying to sue Dr. Robert Koblin for negligence, claiming the physician prescribed potent medication without performing an exam or discussing disinhibiting effects of Ativan that have been linked to an increased risk of suicide.

The lawsuit, which Koblin’s attorneys moved to dismiss late last week, accuses the doctor of prescribing 940 doses of lorazepam, marketed as Ativan, to Cornell.

According to the complaint filed in court, Koblin ordered the first prescription in 2015. Over a 20-month period, beginning in September 2015 and ending with Cornell’s suicide, Koblin allegedly never scheduled a single in-person medical exam or inquired about how Ativan was affecting the singer’s quality of life.

“[Dr.] Koblin did not even see or speak to Mr. Cornell during this period,” claims the lawsuit.

Cornell’s widow, Vicky, has been particularly outspoken: about drugs, addiction and her husband’s death.

“The part that hurts most is Chris’s death was not inevitable, there were no demons that took over,” she said in February. “Chris had a brain disease and a doctor who, unfortunately, like many, was not properly trained or education on addiction.”

In his motion for dismissal, Koblin denies all accusation of negligence. The doctor says that Cornell was “well aware” of the risks inherent to lorazepam, which he took to combat anxiety.

“Any damage or injury suffered by the plaintiff was caused by risks of which plaintiff was well aware or reasonably should have been aware, and which plaintiff voluntarily assumed,” Koblin’s rebuttal reads.

Two prescription pill bottles lie on their sides, spilling out reddish and white pills. Other pill bottles sit in the distance.
Photo by Ben Harvey, via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

And, writes, Koblin claims that Cornell specifically asked “not to be informed” about Ativan’s potential side-effects.

That aside, Koblin insists that not only did he did do everything within his power to help Cornell, but that extant malpractice law should shield him from being sued. His attorneys are asking that the lawsuit be trashed and the physician be reimbursed for attorney fees.

Vicky Cornell has, in the meantime, continued her advocacy. The New York Daily News notes that she spent last Monday in Washington, D.C., sharing her story with Congress.

“While my husband was a rock star, first and foremost he was a father and a husband,” she told the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force.

Cornell, she said, struggled with addiction from the age of 13 but finally “broke the cycle in 2003.”

“We didn’t know he shouldn’t be prescribed certain medications that could hurt his sobriety and recovery,” she said.

“Before his tragic death, Chris was prescribed benzodiazepines to help him sleep due to a tear in his shoulder from playing guitar,” Vicky Cornell continued. “If I only knew then what I know now.

“Unfortunately, that medicine woke up the sleeping hijacker in his brain, and he began to struggle again,” she said. “We didn’t know how to watch for certain triggers that require more support for his health condition.”

Cornell says her husband had previously been diagnosed with “addictive disorder” and that he frequently suffered the ill effects of the sort of “dangerous, mind-altering” drugs Koblin prescribed.

She and Cornell’s children claim Koblin’s negligence was manifest in his inappropriate appraisal of treatment options.

Chris Cornell, notes the Daily News¸ died from hanging at age 52. Autopsy results showed he had lorazepam in his system, along with several other prescription drugs.


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